Stop in the Name of the Data Governance Bureau

Aug 16, 2023
5 mins read

It’s the Law! Part 1: Dealing with data governance requirements effectively and efficiently

In today's digital world, data is an asset with unprecedented value - it is also something that, if managed poorly, can pose an enormous risk. Organisations across all industries and sectors are generating and amassing enormous volumes of data at an astonishing pace. This presents opportunities for innovation, insight, and growth. However, the responsibility demands effective and efficient data governance strategies.

In this post, we delve into the reasons why robust data governance is paramount and we offer some steps that will help you to develop and implement better data management within your organisation, and stop you from falling foul of the regulations, which can land you and your organisation in more trouble than you realised possible.

What is data governance?

Data governance is the set of processes, policies, and strategies that ensure the proper management, quality, security, and accessibility of an organisation's data throughout its lifecycle. It involves defining roles, responsibilities, and guidelines to ensure data is used effectively, ethically, and in compliance with regulations.

What are your legal obligations?

One of the main drivers behind effective and efficient data governance practices is the evolving landscape of data privacy regulations. Frameworks such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have raised the stakes for organisations worldwide. Failure to adhere to these regulations can result in eye-watering fines in the millions, not to mention irreparable reputational damage.

The UK GDPR sets out seven key principles and whilst these are not in themselves ‘hard and fast rules’, they establish the ‘spirit’ of good data protection practice and compliance and therefore should underpin your data governance protocols. 

The key principles are:

  • Lawfulness, fairness and transparency

  • Purpose limitation

  • Data minimisation

  • Accuracy

  • Storage limitation

  • Integrity and confidentiality (security)

  • Accountability

More details on each of these principles and what it entails can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office website.

The principles of the GDPR and other international data regulations are designed to give greater control to individuals over the ways that their data is collected, used, shared and stored. Essentially, the onus is now on organisations to protect the rights and the privacy of individuals with regard to data handling.

Beyond the legal requirements of data governance - which are significant - there are a whole host of other reasons why efficient and effective data management is crucial to business success:

  • Trust and reputation: People are increasingly cautious about sharing their personal information due to escalating concerns about data breaches and misuse. Data breaches can result in significant financial losses and irreparable reputational damage. Build trust by demonstrating a commitment to responsible data management, security, and privacy.

Firms surveyed in an IBM study conducted as far back as 2012 reported that the reputational damage lasts months— far longer than recovery times and long enough to affect quarterly results in most cases. Despite being published over a decade ago, the report shows that for a major incident, such as the data breach suffered by U.S. retailers, the effects could last years. Reputation has always been a thorny thing to value in dollar terms. But there are costs associated with a disruption or breach that can be measured.

  • Informed decisions: Well managed data provides insights that can inform decision-making and fuel innovation. Disorganised data that exists in silos can be arduous and time-consuming to extract insights from. Through good data governance you can establish an indexed data asset estate, making it easier to find, analyse, and leverage data-driven insights to inform strategic decisions.

  • Improved productivity: Data silos are a common roadblock to organisational efficiency. A robust data governance framework can promote cross-department collaboration, streamlining processes and boosting productivity.

  • Prepare for data growth: Effective data governance should plan for the future challenges of managing ever-increasing data volumes, diverse data sources, and new technologies. Building a good foundation for data management today, can help you to navigate the complexities of tomorrow's data landscape.

Where to start?

Implementing effective and efficient data governance involves careful planning, collaboration, and ongoing management. For example, using SimSage can create the ability to find, access and assess your data and information from a single place, without the need to centralise your documents.

Here's an outline approach that you could take:

Step 1: Assess your organisation's needs and readiness

Define goals, establish what data you need to achieve them, and audit your existing data asset estate to give you the full picture of where you are starting from.

Step 2: Define data governance framework

Outline your guiding standards and principles, define roles and responsibilities, and create data governance policies covering collection, retention, sharing, access etc.

Step 3: Develop process and procedures

Index your data, implement robust processes to ensure compliance and create workflows for the entire data-lifecycle. Technology can be used here to significantly improve data management efficiencies.

Step 4: Communication and training

Deliver strategic communications to all stakeholders to keep them informed about data governance and provide regular training, ensuring everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.

Step 5: Monitor, measure, and improve

Implement KPIs and conduct regular audits to monitor compliance and identify issues, and continue to assess and refine your data governance processes; changing business needs, new regulations and emerging technologies are all important factors to consider.

This is only a basic outline and the specific requirements will vary depending on your organisation's size, industry, and regulatory environment so you will need to tailor the framework to your organisation's unique needs. Involving the right  stakeholders in developing the framework is vital to its success too.

Finally, if in doubt... to what action to take - please just remember data compliance is not an option! It is a legal requirement and if you do not manage it well you are exposing your organisation to fines and legal action - not to mention immeasurable damage to reputation.


SimSage is an intelligent multi-channel information management platform, designed to increase business efficiencies and productivity by reducing the time spent finding, organising and processing data.

Contact for more info.